The Liberal Conceit That Their Ideas Are All Brilliant: Writ Large In The Failed Experiment Of The EU

car window crankIt is one of the axioms of good science (a rare thing nowadays) that while ideas and hypotheses and theories are great fun, and often fantastic intellectual challenges, they are all pretty much mental masturbation until they are tested and found to be valid or, just as important, found to be crap, and tossed out.

And that is the difference between Socialism’s command economy and Capitalism’s market economy.


Market economies test and retest each theory, and ruthlessly discard them if they are found wanting. Even if a theory is found to be valid — such as the market for buggy whips or automobile window cranks or chamber pots — the market continues to test its validity. And if it is no longer valid — when was the last time you bought TV Guide? — along comes Schumpeter’s Gale to sweep it into oblivion. And that is as it should be. Innovation and stagnation are mutually exclusive.

But government does no such thing. If an idea — not a tested theory — appeals to a certain significant minority of legislators, then the chances of it becoming reality approach 100%. No matter that the testing that has occurred is limited to the fevered imaginations of a few bureaucrats and legislators, with the careful and well-funded prodding of interested parties (read: rent-seekers and lobbyists). If it sounds like a good idea, and it makes sense, then a priori¬† it IS a good idea that should be implemented…with public money.

EU olive oilIn a contrite appearance in Brussels, the EU Farm Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, said that it had become obvious to him that many consumers did not approve of the mooted rules, which were due to come into force on 1 January of next year.

But it seemed like a good idea! And I’m so smart! I went to the best schools! Just look at my resum√©!

But implementation of laws and rules without benefit of testing and sober analysis isn’t even the worst part of the immense boondoggle that is the EU. Once a rule is thrust down the throats of the hapless, disenfranchised citizens of the Greater European Co-prosperity Sphere, there is essentially no recourse. They can’t even vote out those responsible, because they never voted them in in the first place.

I heard a story — possibly apocryphal — about a fast-food chain that was attacked by one agency of the government (OSHA) for having prep counters that were too low for its workers to use without undue strain on their backs. But the company had been ordered by another arm of government (EEOC) to lower its counters to accommodate wheelchair-bound employees (of which I must assume there were one or two…or none).

Representative government isn’t just a discussion point in history class. It has real-world implications, most more pressing than olive oil dishes in restaurants.